VILNIUS - Managers at Ekranas, the producer of color picture tubes for television sets, have said they will take an active role in preventing the dumping of goods on the Lithuanian market once the country joins the European Union.
At a Jan. 15 press conference, Aydin Giz, deputy chairman of Ekranas' board of directors, said that the changing political circumstances would put the company in a position to defend itself in the European market against imports from countries such as Malaysia and China.
Beginning May 1, when Lithuania is scheduled to join the European common market, the country will no longer be allowed to directly levy anti-dumping duties on imports. Instead, it will have to petition the European Commission to impose protective tariffs across the entire continent.
"When we join the European Union, we will have the right to defend ourselves against dumping. If we feel a threat due to dumping, we will not hesitate to exercise this right," Ekranas' press secretary, Angelija Zo-kaistiene, said.
"There is already a threat posed by an invasion of cheap products from countries in the Far East, which has caused large competition. If we feel this competition is unfair - that is, that color picture tubes are being sold at dumping prices - we will take appropriate action," she said.
Ekranas' tough stance on the issue represents a drastic turn of fortune, as the company was itself the subject of an anti-dumping case in 2000 opened by the European Commission. Arbiters eventually ruled in favor of Ekranas.
Lithuania currently has anti-dumping tariffs in place on only two products, cement and calcium oxide, imported largely from countries such as Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.
"In May, these duties will no longer be valid. After this time, companies will be able to apply directly to the European Commission for anti-dumping measures, or they can use us as a go-between," said Laima Skruodiene of the Economy Ministry.
While the current method employed by the Lithuanian government to investigate dumping practices involves extensive and time-consuming fact checking, officials say that working through Brussels will entail even longer delays.
According to Skruodiene, companies such as Ekranas that face direct competition from analogous companies in Asia will indeed have to keep a close watch on possible dumping tactics form abroad.
"Everything is possible. East Asian companies are very active in the European market, and while the European Commission observes tendencies for possible dumping Lithuanian companies will also be able to file their own complaints," she said.
Ekranas' 2003 sales grew 10.4 percent year-on-year to 465 million litas (135 million euros), the company announced this week.
The company has pegged its 2004 profit forecast at 25 million litas, an increase it expects to realize through increased output. Profits for the first three quarters of 2003 stood at only 4.6 million litas, down from 21.6 million litas during the same period in 2002.